travel: Lisbon, Portugal

budget trips, holidays, lifestyle, travel

For my husband’s birthday, I surprised him with a trip to Lisbon, Portugal.

Lucky for us, our wedding anniversary, birthdays and Christmas are within weeks of one another. So, taking a trip is a good way to pack in all of the celebrating.

We thought that anywhere in the world might be dryer, a little brighter and warmer than Edinburgh in December. We were kind of right… Portugal in the winter is still a little brisk

We had some rainy days, soaked socks, but we absolutely made the most of it. We had to buy umbrellas one day, funny joke to us visiting from the UK, but a little rain did not ruin our party!

Traveling to Europe in the summer is wonderful but we have learned that winter also has perks. Fewer tourists. Affordable airfare. Available accommodation. Quieter low seasons. And my favorite part, seeing what Christmas looks like in other countries!

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Our adventure started the moment we left the Lisbon airport. We were instructed by our Airbnb host to 1. board the tram to a bus stop 2. walk from the bus stop to the flat.

Directions were a bit vague and by tram we had no idea that she meant super-awesome and rickety-old-trolley. It was dark out, we could not see the street signs, so we got off where it “felt right” and got out our city map. Yep, looking like true tourists, no shame and totally embracing the paper map.

We eventually found our flat and were clueless about the view we would wake up to the next morning. The silver lining of arriving at night… we got a surprise the next morning.

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We stayed in the Alfalma neighborhood. All you need is a short wander to realize how WOW it is.  There are several quaint spots for a romantic sit on a bench. These viewpoints, called miravistas, give you stunning views of the water and buildings stacked on the hills. It is easy to be out on foot for long days and nights exploring the many street-side cafes, live music at hidden bars and beautiful little squares with fairy lights and blankets.

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If you plan on walking and wandering around, plan on bringing a comfortable pair of shoes. Those travel books are not lying when they say there are some good inclines. If you need a break, hop on the trolley system!

We spent our days wandering different neighborhoods, a walk down to the coast, popping into café’s for a coffee and baked good. The Pois Café was our favourite spot, books covering every nook and cranny and a healthy, organic range of food and snacks.

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Eat + Drink

Seafood. Custard tarts. Cheese. Wine. That is all you really need to know.

Portugal has a rich tradition of cheese-making and different regions have their own types, much like Portuguese wine. Portuguese food combines a variety of fresh seafood with the flavours from the hillside. There is a lot to discover in both food and wine.

Frango Piri Piri  (Chicken Piri Piri)

Grilled to perfection with a secret blend of spices, this is one of the most popular dishes for visitors and has to be tried at least once. Served with a fresh salad and home-made chips, affordable dinner winner!

Bacalhau (Salted Cod Fish)

Cod is a staple of Portuguese cuisine and they say there is a different cod recipe for every day of the year. Cod is a very versatile fish and is usually the star of the show on Portugese Christmas dinner tables.

Caldeirada  (Fish Stew)

A mixed fish stew usually containing some shellfish and white fish with potato, tomatoes, peppers and onions as the base. White wine and lots of herbs completes the recipe. They say that the secret to a good Caldeirada, apart from the fish, is the correct layering of the various ingredients so that the flavours mix properly. I would love to make a version of this at home.

Pastel de Nata (Custard pastry)

Portugal’s favorite sweet treat. Small open pastries with a sweet custard filling and a caramelised sugar topping, you can find Pastel de Nata is every coffee shop in the city. They say the pastry should be flakey and light, the filling creamy, eggy and sweet. This was our birthday cake abroad.

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Do + See

Lisbon, Portugal is a cool city.  Artsy. Quaint. Windy roads. Hills. White buildings. Red roofs. Colorful tiles. Cobblestone. Churches. Street art. Seafood. Produce. Vintage markets. Trollies. Cathedrals. Tuk-Tuks. Alleyways. Motorbikes. Street artists and antique vendors. Like I said, cool.

Campo de Santa. Be sure to visit Campo de Santa, a lovely flea market in the old city. Take good carrier bags to stock up on amazing vintage Portuguese kitchenware, decor, and ceramics on sale in little shops for great prices.

Trollies. The trams that trundle up and down the streets are charming. Tram 28 is said to be the best. Begin at Largo Martim Moniz to get a seat in the wood panelled carriage.

Souvenir. One thing everyone will notice about Lisbon are the beautiful ceramic tiles that cover literally every wall, café’s, flats, storefronts, park benches and city fountains. There are brand new varieties you can pick up in a tourist shops but even more charming are the antique and funky varieties you can find in flea markets and vendors. We chose a green and white one from the 1950s, easy to get back home and a totally memorable part about Lisbon.

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The waterfront and Praça do Comércio square was home to the Royal Ribeira Palace before it was destroyed in 1755. Lots of locals like come out for a stroll, especially in the early evening and lots of Christmas decorations and a small Christmas market to enjoy.

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Day Trip to Sintra. We decided to spend one day on a train going outside of the city. A friend recommended that we visit the nearby village of Sintra. I am so glad we took her advice. Sintra is normally buzzing with tourists, but thanks to the rain, we were two of ten people up there that day. We were soaked but it was well worth it. We visitied the grotto gardens of the Quinta da Regaleira Palace, a 19th century gothic mansion that is surrounded with some of the most elaborate gardens we have ever seen.

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Have you taken a special birthday trip? And what has your experience been traveling in the winter months?

Have a lovely weekend, friends!

peace + grace

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paleo pumpkin bars

breakfast, holidays, snacks, treats

They started off as a weekend treat. Then a quick breakfast option and onto an after-gym snack. They are pretty much just always around these days.

This pumpkin bar recipe from the Detoxinista has been a weekly staple for us this season. Canned pumpkin is hard to come by in this city but we had some generous visitors come through Edinburgh and they brought us canned pumpkin from the States… they know me too well!

They are moist. Pumpkiny. Warm. Comforting. And the closest thing I got to pumpkin pie, that is GF, DF, and refined sugar-free this year. They have been the perfect alternative and great with a morning cup of joe.

I have successfully reintroduced a couple of key spices here after following the AIP. If you have yet to incorporate nutmeg and clove into your diet, look at the link here for a vegan and AIP-friendly recipe for pumpkin bars from Cook It Up Paleo.

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Paleo Pumpkin Bars

Makes 12 bars

Ingredients:

15 oz. pumpkin puree (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs

Coconut oil, for greasing the pan

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F / 175C
  2. Grease a 9×9 baking tray well with coconut oil.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir well.
  4. Transfer batter to the greased baking tray, smooth the top.
  5. Bake at for 40-45 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the center is firm.
  6. Allow to cool completely, then cut into squares and serve.
  7. Share with your people, enjoy!

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Notes

  • Coconut flour is a unique GF flour to use in baking. This recipe relies on using coconut flour and a substitution is not as straight forward as you might think. If you would like to use a different flour substitute look here for an almond flour recipe from Elana’s Pantry.
  • These bars will store well in the fridge for a few days (if they last that long!)
  • Try a pumpkin pie spice blend for ease and perfect ratios.

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What healthy treats do you or your families make every year? The past few years my mom makes delicious crust-less pies for the holidays. Instead of a traditional pie crust, she makes the most delicious base of ground nuts, coconut oil and agave nectar or maple syrup. See a similar recipe here

I can attest that this recipe is a delicious addition while you are putting up your Christmas decorations. I hope you are having a lovely start to your December and Advent season.

Have a delicious week, x!

 

 

 

 

harvest salad with roasted winter squash

dressing, mains, salads

I am always on Team Salad. Warm months. Snowy months. Year-round.

Sometimes when we transition from summer to fall, we need a warm hug and that is what this harvest bowl is all about- sweet and savoury – warm and crunchy – light yet satiating and full of seasonal goodness.

This harvest bowl is ridiculously healthy as it is  loaded with four kinds of fiber-rich and nutrient dense vegetables.  The maple-balsamic dressing adds a sweet kick and so dang good. I am wanting to put it on everything right now.

This time of year is the height of gourd (such a funny word) and root vegetable season. I find these vegetables to be incredibly warm, comforting and that they satisfy my hunger in these darker winter months. Why not enjoy the best of what the season has to offer? This harvest bowl brings so many great autumn flavours together.

 

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This salad is simple. While the squash is baking, simply sauté your seeds or nuts to crunchy perfection and blend up the super simple dressing. After the squash is roasted, assemble the salad and get ready for the flavor disco!

Harvest Salad with Roasted Winter Squash

Serves 4 small / 2 mains

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1/2 butternut squash, diced
  • 1 1/2 Tbs olive oil or melted coconut oil
  • ground sea salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

 Dressing Ingredients

  • 4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 4 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F / 200C
  2. Cut the acorn squash into quarters and the butternut squash in half (longways) scoop out seeds and press the flesh a few times with a fork.
  3. Cut the acorn squash into 1/2 inch slices and dice the butternut squash into bite size chunks.
  4. Drizzle the squash with the oil and rub it around to coat, being sure to fully coat.
  5. Lay squash on a baking tray, sprinkle with sea salt and bake for about 35-45 minutes. * Test readiness by outer crispy edges and easy to pierce flesh. Be sure to occasionally stir the tray to prevent burning.
  6. Set aside to cool
  7. In a small food processor, blend all dressing ingredients until smooth and combined.
  8. Combine all the salad ingredients,  in a large bowl and toss with desired amount of dressing.
  9. Share with your people and enjoy! notes below 

 

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Notes

  • Toppings: For a festive addition, use pomegranate, baked apples, or stewed cranberries.
  • Top with any nut or seed of your choice for a little extra crunch. Feeling like a creamy or tangy option? A soft cheese like goat or feta should do the trick!
  • Rubbing the raw kale with olive oil for a few minutes leaves it tender and takes away the bitterness (also easier to digest, read more here from Nutrition Stripped)
  • The dressing can be prepared ahead of time and will keep up to 3 days

 

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As always, I would love to hear if you try the recipe!  What are your favorite ways to use winter vegetables this time of year?

 

Have a delicious week!

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